Sunday 28 May 2017

Irish tongue is a real mouthful for Chinese students

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

A GROUP of Chinese students are grappling with the intricacies of the Irish language in the first university course of its kind in the Asian country.

Beijing Foreign Studies University has been holding classes for 16 students since late September under its policy to teach all tongues of the European Union.

Tutor Seamas O Murchu, who travelled to the sprawling capital to teach the course, said the students were making gradual progress despite the obvious language barriers.

But he admitted he wasn't pushing them too hard quite yet.

"They find the pronunciation quite difficult. But they seem to be coping okay," he said.

But while the students are taking the new language in their stride, many are questioning whether it will ultimately be of any use to them.

"I had no idea what the language was like and was not very enthusiastic about it, knowing it wouldn't be of much use and knowing it is very difficult.

"After the course started, though, I began to like it for the sound and feeling of it. So now I can say I want to study it but after I finish school, I don't know if I would continue," said Chen Qi, a 24-year-old undergraduate from Wuhan in central China.

Irish Independent

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